Financier patents hair-care device

Thomas Powell assembles groups of investors to finance real estate deals through ventures organized by ELP Capital Inc.

He travels from his Reno office to lecture on economics and finance to groups around the world.

He's an instructor at the Office of Executive Education at Harvard University.

And lately, Powell has developed a new expertise: Barbershop products.

In late May, Powell was granted a U.S. patent for what the Patent Office described generically as a "personal hair assistant."

Like any good invention, the personal hair assistant solves a real-world problem: Those little hairs that go down your neck and drive you crazy for a while after you get a haircut.

And like any good invention, Powell's answer is the height of simplicity: A roller with disposal adhesive tape, something like the roller you use to get cat hair off your black slacks, that hair professionals can keep handy.

He turned to Elance an online site based in Mountain View, Calif., that links business people to designers, technical writers and other experts to help prepare a successful patent application that was filed on documents from

"Elance works especially well," Powell says.

Now, like many inventors, Powell is looking for a manufacturer to license the idea and start a stream of riches flowing his way.

In common with razor-blade manufacturers who almost give away razors in order to generate a stream of blade-buying consumers, Powell thinks the opportunity with his product rests in the revenues from selling refills of the sticky tape rather than the rollers themselves.

The patent, which is held by Powell I.P. LLC, was the first won by Powell.


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